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Hormone therapy can help ease symptoms of menopause

The topic of menopause often centers around hot flashes and the celebratory end of inconvenient periods, but these are just symptoms of a natural process in a woman’s ovaries. When a woman reaches a certain age - generally any time after the age of 40 - menopause will begin. By the time a woman enters menopause, she has been through countless physical changes, making menopause just another season.

Hormones.

For being about the size of a walnut, an ovary packs a powerful hormonal punch. One primary function is to produce estrogen and progesterone, both vital hormones that signal a woman’s body to go through the steps of a normal reproductive cycle - menstrual periods and potentially pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant, the ovaries will release higher levels of estrogen and progesterone to facilitate a healthy pregnancy.

During menopause, this natural system comes to an end, the ovaries gradually stop producing and releasing eggs and estrogen production stops.

“Women sometimes fear menopause because it’s a big life change that can cause weight changes, vaginal dryness, hot flashes and emotional imbalance,” says Maria D. Merzouk, D.O., FACOG, of Meritus Women’s Health Specialists, Robinwood. “Don’t be afraid! There is support for you.”

Symptoms be gone.

Symptoms differ from woman to woman, but many experience irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep problems, slowed metabolism and mood changes.

To ease symptoms of menopause, doctors often recommend hormone replacement therapy, such as estrogen therapy.

According to Dr. Merzouk, there’s a common misperception that hormones are bad.

“It’s certainly OK to take hormones to treat menopause symptoms,” she says. “Why should you deal with hot flushes ten times per day when there are wonderful effects hormone therapy can offer to decrease this and other symptoms.”

Menopausal hot flushes are one of the more unpleasant side effects of menopause effectively treated with estrogen therapy.

Lifestyle changes may also help relieve some menopausal symptoms. Deep breathing relaxation techniques, avoiding caffeine and exercise too late in the evening, eating a more balanced diet and quitting smoking have all been shown to help with sleep and mood problems.

A smooth transition.

To help your body gently enter and adapt to menopause, Dr. Merzouk recommends improving your overall health before you even enter in.

“Once you hit menopause, it can be more difficult to make health changes and lose weight,” says Dr. Merzouk. “Getting into a consistent exercise routine before you turn 40 is ideal.”

She recommends 30 minutes of good cardio exercise at least three times per week, which will go a long way to setting your body up for long-term health through all of life’s seasons.

“Menopause is a natural physical state that every woman goes through eventually and various treatment options can help facilitate a more graceful transition,” says Dr. Merzouk.

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